“To be or not to be.” The beginning of Hamlet’s soliloquy is the most frequently quoted line from any of Shakespeare’s work, without a doubt. We all know it is a famous question (or as its proponents prefer, THE question). It’s pondered often, and the best part about it, is the meaning. Although succinctly perfect the way it is written, many interpret it as “to live ornot to live.” That really is a question that should be considered more frequently, and may be most appropriately contemplated in a fast-food drive-thru (As in: Should I be eating this?). We will analyze the popular Shakespearean quote, and will contemplate the two alternatives.

To Live: Life, and the many benefits to be experienced thereof. Starting with the pros, the reasons to live (eating to live) certainly seem compelling. Unless you have a complex dilemma like Hamlet, choosing to live seems like a no-brainer. Milestone events such as graduation, marriage, buying a home, or having a child are difficult to achieve without being alive. Actually, just about any experience or action requires that one be alive, and the list of reasons to advocate so is staggering. Let’s just say that happiness is best experienced with life, and that is reason enough for most.

Not To Live: Death, and the cessation of the events of life. Usually averted by most, death is considered tragic. As we discussed in previous entries to this series, not eating properly can send you to an early grave. Still skeptical? Well, unless you have been able to live in seclusion the past decade or so, you are certainly familiar with what is now being called the “obesity crisis.” Driven by poor diet and over-consumption of less than ideal foods, obesity is a problem that plagues more than one-third of American adults. Aside from the obvious physical disadvantage of being overweight, obesity leads to a host of problematic conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer (these four aliments are the leading causes of death). As mentioned in part 2 of the Eating to Live series, those conditions are derivatives of the “live to eat” mindset, which poses a serious threat to health and longevity. Needless to say, “Living to eat” is not the ideal philosophy for one seeking to avoid death or death-inducing symptoms.

While the deterring factors of the “live to eat” mindset are quite evident, there has to be a rational explanation as to why it is as widespread as it actually is. There are usually many social, emotional, psychological, and even financial incentives to this lifestyle. Conversely, there are a flock of disincentives as well. Yes, we are making the assumption that the reason to consume a doughnut bacon cheeseburger is not because one seeks to induce bodily harm. So what are some of those common incentives/motivators to eating not-so-healthy foods? In a nutshell:

  • Tastes good
  • Friends do it (Peer pressure)
  • Background (raised on it)
  • High stress levels
  • Addiction
  • Misinformation (seems healthy)
  • Availability (more common)
  • Less expensive
  • Effective marketing
  • Lack of alternatives

There is no denying the fact that some (if not all) of those reasons are legitimate, and it makes sense how an improper mindset and poor diet can pervade a culture. But try a different mindset (the one advocated in this blog series), and your perspectives will change. If health really is your goal, and you set your intentions towards it, those reasons will become excuses (which lack validity). The “eat to live” mentality will expose you to new thought processes.  Suddenly, the question you have been pondering becomes clearer: you simply must decide the weight of importance of your priorities. If you want to choose the former option, you will recognize that you have to put your health first. With that in mind, eating right (to live) suddenly becomes much easier. Not only that, but it becomes exponentially more attractive.